REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 3 Portsmouth 1

Emma Plewa celebrates her second goal – and Wasps third – against Portsmouth Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

The returning Emma Plewa inspired Crawley Wasps to a 3-1 victory over Portsmouth on Sunday, which put them back on top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

Former Wales international Plewa set up the opening goal and then scored twice herself on her first league appearance since April.

A hard-fought game, played on a heavy pitch at East Grinstead Town FC, kept a season’s-best crowd of 235 thoroughly entertained.

Visitors Portsmouth, whose boss Jay Sadler won October’s manager of the month award, started brightly with Jade Bradley forcing Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs into a fine early save.

But against the run of play, Paul Walker’s side took the lead on 17 minutes. Plewa delivered from the left and fellow winger Tash Stephens converted from close range against her former club.

GALLERY: For more of Ben Davidson’s pictures from the Gillingham game, CLICK HERE

Wasps skipper Naomi Cole then drove narrowly past the angle of post and bar, but Pompey equalised when Gibbs tipped Tamsin De Bunsen’s shot on to the bar and Jade Widdows netted the rebound.

However, Wasps went back in front moments later as Charlotte Young’s ball sent Plewa clear and she coolly slotted low into the far corner.

Pompey then went down to 10 men after Katie James was sent off for an attempted kick out.

But despite their staff-shortage, the visitors kept the second half very competitive, although clear-cut chances were at a premium.

Widdows and Wasps’ Sam Pittuck went close at either end before Plewa wrapped things up on 77 minutes with another run and clinical finish.

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, Russell, James, Palmer; Young, Cole; Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 71), Stow (Drury 71), Plewa; Pittuck (Carter 82). Subs not used: Graves, Owen.

REPORT: MK Dons 0 Crawley Wasps 2

Crawley Wasps players, and first-team coach Mike Gardner, relax in the Stadium:MK dugout as they prepare for the game.

Terrific late goals from full-backs Hope Nash and Rachel Palmer secured Crawley Wasps a 2-0 win at MK Dons on Sunday.

It was a result that put us back on top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

Paul Walker’s side had stuttered in a dramatic 2-2 home draw with Gillingham last Wednesday, but got back to winning ways in the plush surroundings of the 30,000-capacity Stadium:MK, in front of a healthy crowd of 399.

Charlotte Young and Tash Stephens fired over the bar for the visitors in the first half but MK Dons threatened on several occasions after the break, with Wasps’ teenage keeper Lauren Graves forced into a couple of good stops.

The Dons also hit the woodwork and the hosts’ frustration was compounded in the last minute of normal time when right-back Nash – a summer arrival at Wasps from Crystal Palace – shot home from just outside the box.

And the win was confirmed when left-back Palmer fired a free-kick into the far corner.

Wasps: Graves; Nash, Young, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Stow (Fleischman 65); Ledezma-Viso (Pittuck 65), Owen, Stephens; Carter. Sub not used: Green.

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 2 Gillingham 2

Celebrations after Naomi Cole’s spectacular goal – but they were to be cut short moments later (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Naomi Cole’s spectacular 50th goal for Crawley Wasps was not enough for victory as Gillingham snatched a point late on amid a dramatic and at times chaotic finish.

Skipper Cole hit the bar in the opening minute and Rebecca Carter saw an effort turned away by Gills keeper Cara Davies as Wasps started brightly.

But that was as good as it got for Paul Walker’s side in the first half, with Lauren Graves forced into a save to deny Georgia Pearch.

Tash Stephens finally broke the deadlock 10 minutes into the second half, stooping to head in Cole’s cross.

Both Davies and Graves tidied up well in goal at times to thwart and disrupt attacks and it seemed as if Wasps were heading for a workmanlike win.

But the game exploded into life in the closing stages, with three superb goals and a red card.

GALLERY: For more of Ben Davidson’s pictures from the Gillingham game, CLICK HERE

First, on 88 minutes, Ellie Jeffkins’ struck a free kick from distance beyond Graves to pull the Gills level, but almost immediately, Cole produced a moment of magic to beat the scrambling Davies from 40 yards to seemingly win it.

However, Wasps failed to manage the game and a quick counter sent Grace Harrison away and her perfect lob over Graves in injury time earned Gillingham a point.

There was still time for Wasps’ Niamh Stephenson to be sent off, deemed to be denying a clear goalscoring opportunity despite being some way out from goal, and that sparked a brief melee.

When that calmed down, Graves gathered in a shot from distance and the spoils were shared.

Wasps: Graves; Nash, Russell, James, Niamh Stephenson; Drury, Cole; Ledezma-Viso, Stow, Stephens (Owen 73); Carter (Pittuck 84). Subs not used: Palmer, Fleischman.

REPORT: Crawley Wasps 3 Oxford United 1

Darcey James heads in Crawley Wasps’ third goal (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps scored three times in eight second-half minutes to defeat Oxford United 3-1 on Sunday and remain top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

Wasps had trailed to a Gemma Sims header shortly after the break but their response – inspired by the lively Faye Rabson – was swift, incisive and match-changing.

Not even the sending off of Wasps goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs late on could let Oxford back into the game.

The victory – their sixth in seven league games since promotion – keeps Wasps three points clear of Plymouth and five ahead of Cardiff in the third tier of women’s football.

Oxford started brightly, with Kayleigh Hines flashing a shot wide and Georgia Timms testing Gibbs, while at the other end Charlotte Owen twice went close and Tash Stephens shot straight at Oxford keeper Aimee Watson.

GALLERY: For more of Ben Davidson’s pictures from this game, CLICK HERE

The goal the game needed came when Sims’ downward header from a corner put Oxford in front.

The lead lasted just six minutes, as Rabson was sent tumbling near the byline and Wasps captain Naomi Cole converted the resulting penalty.

Rabson then put the hosts in front, latching on to Owen’s threaded pass and keeping her cool to slide the ball past Watson.

Wasps extended their lead further when Darcey James nodded in Cole’s corner at the far post.

Gibbs was shown a red card after her outstretched hand caught Cheryl Williams in the face, with her replacement Lauren Graves making a good save from Georgia Clifford to keep Oxford at bay.

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, Russell, James, Palmer; Cole, Stow (Drury 76); Ledezma-Viso (Fleischman 69), Owen, Rabson (Graves 81); Stephens. Subs not used: Young, Webber.

REPORT: Keynsham Town 0 Crawley Wasps 1

Match-winner Maria Ledezma-Viso was signed in the summer from the defunct Guiseley Vixens (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

Maria Ledezma-Viso opened her account for Crawley Wasps in a 1-0 victory at Keynsham on Sunday, ensuring they remain top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

Venezuelan winger Ledezma-Viso, a summer arrival from Guiseley, capped a lively performance with the only goal of the game, finding the net from the corner of the box.

It marked a return to winning ways for Wasps, after defeat by Watford last time out, but now sit three points ahead of Plymouth and Cardiff.

Their best chances of the first half came just before the break, defender Darcey James seeing an effort cleared off the line and captain Naomi Cole having a shot saved.

Ledezma-Viso’s deciding goal came on 54 minutes but Wasps had opportunities to extend the lead – substitute Charlotte Owen was denied twice and Ellie Russell nodded over.

Wasps are back in action next Sunday when we host Oxford United at East Grinstead Town FC. Kick off is 2pm.

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, Russell, James, Palmer; Drury, Cole (Owen 74); Ledezma-Viso, Stow, Rabson (Fleischman 82); Webber (Stephens 59).

REPORT: Crawley Wasps 1 Watford 3

Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs was named Player of the Match by match sponsors Sub-Cool FM (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

Crawley Wasps’ 100 per cent start to the new season ended with a 3-1 home defeat by Watford – only their second league loss in two and a half years.

After a goalless first hour, Watford struck twice in short order at East Grinstead to take control and although Ellie Russell got Wasps back into it, the visitors settled matters late on.

Newly promoted Wasps had won their first four games in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division, and still sit top of the third tier despite this defeat.

They started promisingly, with Rebecca Carter denied by a sprawling save from Watford’s former Brighton keeper Nina Wilson, while Charlotte Owen lashed narrowly wide.

At the other end, Wasps keeper Frankie Gibbs – named player of the match by sponsors Sub-Cool FM – made a fine stop to keep out Megan Chandler, and Andrea Carid later hit the post.

Gibbs also did brilliantly early in the second half to deny Adekite Fatuga-Dada, but she was beaten on the hour mark when the same player broke the offside trap to convert from Ryah Vyse’s pass.

GALLERY: More of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures to follow.

Watford doubled the lead on 69 minutes as a corner was headed back across goal for Anne Meiwald to head into an empty net.

Wasps pulled a goal back when Naomi Cole’s free kick caused problems for keeper Wilson, who could only drop it on to the head of Russell.

But the Hornets restored their two-goal lead, Gibbs’ goal kick intercepted by Ocean Rolandsen, who played the ball forward for Leanne Bell and her squared ball was swept in by Katie O’Leary.

Wasps manager Paul Walker said: “I think in most areas Watford had the edge and were worthy winners. There’s some good sides in this league and teams will take points off each other.

“We’ve just come off the back of five consecutive wins in all competitions, the most important thing is how we pick ourselves up against Keynsham next week.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, Russell, Drury, Palmer; Cole, Fleischman (Stow 53); Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 72), Owen, Rabson; Carter (Webber 39). Sub not used: Graves.

REPORT: Yeovil Town 1 Crawley Wasps 2

Crawley Wasps celebrate Rebecca Carter’s opener against Yeovil (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

Naomi Cole’s second-half free-kick secured Crawley Wasps an excellent 2-1 victory at Yeovil Town on Sunday, completing a clean sweep of three wins in seven days.

In the battle between the two early-season high-flyers in the FA Women’s National League South, Wasps struck first through Rebecca Carter.

A resurgent Yeovil – playing in the Women’s Super League last season, before financial problems saw them demoted two divisions – levelled shortly after the break.

But Cole’s set-piece proved the winner and means Wasps sit top of the third tier, with four wins from four, a major feat after back-to-back promotions.

GALLERY: More of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures to follow.

Wasps soaked up spells of possession in the first half, keeper Frankie Gibbs making a couple of good stops, but also had efforts themselves, as Maria Ledezma-Viso – who set up a chance for Carter early on – was denied by Glovers keeper Beth Howard.

On the stroke of half time, Wasps struck the opener, Carter capitalising on some fine work from Tash Stephens and Charlotte Owen.

Yeovil responded well in the second half, Annie Heatherson issuing a warning by producing a save from Gibbs, before Wales international Sarah Wiltshire levelled with a curling effort.

But 10 minutes later, Wasps were back in front, Cole picking herself up after a foul and firing in – and sealing a real statement result.

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, James, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Fleischman (Stow 78); Stephens, Owen (Simmons 90), Ledezma-Viso; Carter (Webber 84).

REPORT: Chichester City 1 Crawley Wasps 7

Wasps celebrate going 2-0 up with goalscorer Ellie Russell (right) and corner taker Rachel Palmer (hidden) (Picture: Alan Sillwood-Brown)

A dominant second-half performance saw Crawley Wasps win 7-1 at Chichester City on Wednesday night – and move to the top of the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

Summer recruits Charlotte Owen and Rebecca Carter both scored twice as Wasps recorded their biggest away league victory since November 2017, and made it three wins from three since promotion to the third tier.

It also lifted them to their highest-ever position in the women’s football pyramid, ahead of Sunday’s trip to second-place Yeovil Town.

Despite finishing third last season, Chichester are in transition this term, after the loss of manager Aaron Smith and a number of first-team players, including winger Tash Stephens to Wasps.

Chi had lost their opening two games without scoring, while Wasps had won both without conceding – and that form was bearing out as the visitors’ left-back Rachel Palmer twice went close in the opening five minutes, grazing the bar and then forcing a save.

GALLERY: For more of Alan Sillwood-Brown’s pictures from the Chichester game, CLICK HERE

Midfielder Owen put Wasps ahead on 27 minutes, netting the rebound after Carter’s lob had come back off the underside of the bar, before centre-back Ellie Russell nodded in from Palmer’s corner.

Chi hit back on the stroke of half time, Sophie Phelps heading in as Wasps were breached for the first time in 374 minutes, dating back to May.

But Paul Walker’s side struck three times early in the second half to kill the game off. Faye Rabson twice set up Carter to net from close range, before she got on the scoresheet herself with a superb header from Stephens’ cross.

The excellent Ariana Fleischman created Owen’s second before Palmer’s cross-cum-shot deceived the Chi keeper to add a seventh.

Wasps: Gibbs; Nash, James, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Fleischman; Stephens, Owen, Rabson (Ledezma-Viso 60); Carter (Webber 67). Subs not used: Graves, Niamh Stephenson.

REPORT & GALLERY: Crawley Wasps 4 Hounslow 0

Charlotte Owen tucks away her first goal for Crawley Wasps (Picture: Ben Davidson Photography)

Crawley Wasps made it two wins from two in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division with a 4-0 victory over Hounslow on Sunday.

Summer signing Charlotte Owen’s 12th minute opener was just reward for a bright start, but Wasps laboured after that against a well-organised Hounslow, formerly QPR Ladies, who had lost their opening game 9-0 to Yeovil.

However, three goals in a 10-minute period late in the second half gave the scoreline a gloss that was perhaps a tad harsh on the hard-working visitors.

Early on, it looked as though it would be a long afternoon for Hounslow as Wasps dominated. Tash Stephens and Naomi Cole both went close, before Hounslow keeper Gillian Kasiyre blocked bravely in the midst of a goalmouth scramble.

Owen provided the breakthrough, pouncing from close range after Rachel Palmer’s corner wasn’t cleared. But the floodgates didn’t open, as Faye Rabson poked narrowly wide of the far post after a burst of pace and Rebecca Carter shot straight at Kasiyre when clean through.

GALLERY: For more of Ben Davidson’s photos from the Hounslow game, CLICK HERE.

The introduction early in the second half of last season’s top scorer Kemina Webber and lively winger Maria Ledezma-Viso gave extra life to the Wasps attack, and Webber converted on 66 minutes after Naomi Cole’s deflected shot fell into her path.

That led to a spell of Wasps domination. Cole tucked away a penalty after Hope Nash was clipped in the box and Carter – on her third ‘debut’ following her return to the club – fizzed a shot into the net after a fine run and cross from Ledezma-Viso.

Hounslow’s only serious threat came late on, but Sue Kumaning’s free-kick was brilliantly turned away by 17-year-old Wasps keeper Lauren Graves, making only her third league appearance.

Wasps: Graves; Nash, James, Russell, Palmer (Niamh Stephenson 72); Cole, Owen (Webber 55); Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 55), Fleischman, Rabson; Carter. Sub not used: Drury.

Wasps travel to Chichester on Wednesday (kick off 7.45pm).

MATCH REPORT: Oxford United 0 Crawley Wasps 1

Crawley Wasps unveiled their new change strip at Oxford United (Picture: Liam Potter)

Captain Naomi Cole proved the hero as Crawley Wasps won 1-0 at Oxford United to book their place in the main draw of the FA Women’s National League Cup.

Cole struck five minutes from time, capitalising on a defensive error before beating U’s goalkeeper Paris Sercombe.

It was the second time in two seasons that Wasps had won away at Oxford in this competition – they beat them 3-1 after extra time en route to last season’s final.

Paul Walker’s side were without several key players for the trip. Midfielder Jenny Drury and winger Emma Plewa were both ruled out through illness and injury, playmaker Megan Stow through suspension and striker Rebecca Carter away.

GALLERY: For more of Liam Potter’s pictures, CLICK HERE.

They suffered a further blow when summer signing Sam Pittuck, who scored on her debut in the 2-0 win over Plymouth the previous week, limped off.

Chances were at a premium in the first half, as both teams battled hot conditions at Oxford City FC.

After the break, Wasps ‘keeper Frankie Gibbs fielded a shot from Immy Lancaster, while at the other end sub Hope Nash’s fine ball in could not be converted.

With extra-time once again looming, Cole – who had denied Oxford the win last season with an injury-time equaliser – nipped in to score.

Wasps: Gibbs; Niamh Stephenson (Nash 48), James, Russell, Palmer; Cole, Owen; Stephens (Ledezma-Viso 63), Fleischman, Rabson; Pittuck (Young 22).

Wasps are back in FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division action this Sunday (September 1) with a home game against Hounslow, at East Grinstead Town’s East Court ground (kick off 2pm).